The Best Ways to Expand a Professional Network
Here are some ideas to consider when trying to network and expand those career options.
Take Advantage of Social Networking Sites
Become familiar with the online networking world. Making friends online is the new trend. Sign up for a Twitter account and search for organizations and firms. This is the quickest and easiest way to keep up-to-date. Usually jobs available are announced internally first before it becomes public. So regularly following an organization’s tweets can come in handy.
It is equally important to establish an online presence just as it’s important to make appearances at corporate parties and events. So gaining followers on Twitter, creating and recruiting members to a social networking group, or establishing a personal website that showcases a professional portfolio are all important things to do. It allows for people to advertise him or her self, and for prospective employers to find qualified people.
College Professors and Classmates
Professors tend to keep up-to-date in their business. Some may still be actively involved in their industry. Either way, they are sure to know important people, and their recommendations for applicants can go a long way. Set a lunch date to talk about industry trends and opportunities. Professors are valuable sources because they are interested in hearing about people who care about the industry and who want to get their foot in the door. So keeping in touch with those old professors could be the difference in getting that job.
Keep in touch with classmates and never burn bridges. Remember those classmates that sat in the front of class and aced every test? Those are the classmates to stay connected with. Never burn a bridge because no matter how big the industry is, companies within an industry often keep in close contact with one another. Burning a bridge at one company can likely mean that all other companies will know what happened.
Search the News and Company Press Releases
The media is a good place to find social events within a company, like a product launch. Keep up-to-date with the news. Look up press releases from the major companies in the industry. Press conferences and social events are great ways to meet interesting people. Check local listings in the paper and employment centres to find job fairs or professional development days around the area.
Be willing to volunteer, and let people know this. Finding contact information is easy, but making contacts is harder. Many managers are often very busy to meet for a discussion, but nothing will get their attention more than hearing people say “free work”. Volunteering at an organization is a good way to meet contacts within the company.
Develop an “elevator pitch” and practice it. Be polite and friendly all the time. Sometimes networking happens when it’s least expected, and it’s important that people know what to say to pitch their professional skills and credentials in 30-seconds.